From the White Sands Soaring Association Handbook:
If you do not have a pilot certificate, you will follow the outline below:
- Obtain a student certificate. Your instructor will help with this
- Fly with your instructor until both you and the instructor are satisfied that you can safely “solo” the aircraft. Expect a minimum of 25 flights at the rate of 3-4 per session. At this point the instructor will administer a short written test on the particular glider you are flying and endorse your logbook for solo flight.
- Take the FAA written exam for your private pilot certificate. Your instructor will help you with the preparation.
- Practice solo flight.
- Take the practical test, or “check ride”. The practical test consists of an oral exam and flights with a FAA examiner. It is somewhat analogous to a driving test. Your instructor will assist you in preparing for this and be present during the test.
- After you pass the practical test and have been issued a private pilot certificate, you can legally carry passengers.
Steps 1 and 2 above can be combined, as can steps 3 and 4.
If you have a power pilot certificate but not a glider rating, expect the following:
- 10-15 instructional flights, depending on the individual.
- The FAA written test is not necessary.
- Written test on particular glider being flown. Solo practice.
- Preparation for check ride.
- Check ride.